Abstract: ISDC Science Forum 2023

Dina Najjar, Senior Gender Scientist, ICARDA

The Middle East and North Africa region remains largely marginalized from the discussion on how agricultural extension can be gender-responsive to simultaneously support increased technology adoption and women’s empowerment in rural areas. We contribute to this discussion by examining how ‘Mind the Gap’ project impacted women's participation in household decision-making related to crop and livestock and adoption of agricultural technologies, namely barley and feed blocks. The project was implemented in two regions of central Tunisia, Zaghouan and Kairouan, which focus on mixed farming and livestock production.  

The project employed mixed-methods research. Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) included 700 households which were divided into four treatment groups: T1 – Business as usual (BAU) (targeting primarily men and women heads of household with technical information); T2 – BAU with economic and organizational training (targeting primarily men and women heads of household); T3 – BAU with men and women trained (separately) on economic and organizational matters; and T4 – BAU with women trained on economic and organizational training. In addition, qualitative data from 240 farmers (half men and half women) were collected to understand the underlying reasons and processes for adoption and participation in decision-making.   

Findings reveal that when women were recipients of SMS messages on agricultural technologies (directly or through their husbands) suggests that there was an increase in both the adoption and intention to adopt Kounouz barley variety. Households where husbands reported women’s involvement in decision-making around adoption had higher adoption rates for Konouz barley variety as well as intention to adopt. Qualitative interviews revealed that feed blocks were found useful by women more than men. On the other hand, barley was found useful to both genders. This might explain the low adoption rates for feed blocks. The Findings also reveal that in addition to participating in in-person training, increasing women’s decision-making power was positively affected by generating off-farm income and increased involvement in agricultural labor. Finally, we found that generally, men were far more likely to experience increased decision-making in agriculture and livestock due to the treatments. Women, on the other hand, were significantly more likely to attribute their own success and ability to have a successful business to destiny. This suggests the need to go beyond targeting women and addressing cultural and gender norms.   

Speaker Bio

Dr. Dina Najjar 

Dina Najjar is a Senior Gender Scientist and has joined ICARDA in 2014 as a social and gender specialist. A socio-cultural anthropologist by training, she focuses on the link between gender equality and policies; agricultural technologies and delivery systems; rural employment and migration; adaption to climate change; and productive assets, including access to land and ownership, in the Middle East and North Africa. Her geographical expertise includes Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Sudan. She has also conducted research in Uzbekistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, and India.